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Mariners mock draft roundup - Baseball America, Callis, Law, Longenhagen, and McDaniel

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A quick tour of the latest expert mock drafts, less than two weeks from draft day.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAR 01 Georgia at Georgia Tech
They mocked me where?
Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mock drafts are a fool’s errand, we must constantly consider and remember this. But they are useful in a couple ways. First, they help us contextualize what a draft may play out as from a perspective different (and typically somewhat better connected) than our own. Second, in the case of some, they are an opportunity to glimpse information on which teams are talking to or repeatedly checking in on various players, and they make perfect fodder for good old-fashioned speculation. In the past week, we’ve gotten a fresh mock draft from Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, as well as updated prognostications from Keith Law of The Athletic, Kiley McDaniel of ESPN, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, and the Baseball America staff. As each group notes, a lack of games not only limits scouting looks for them, it hampers their ability to “scout the scouts”, as BA puts it, which helps folks gauge how much staff teams are allocating to various players, and therein better estimate prioritization beyond off-the-record conversations.

Baseball America

No. 6 Overall Pick: RHP Max Meyer - University of Minnesota

The Grey Lady of prospect writing has let no grass grow under their feet in these strange times. This most recent update represents their fifth iteration of their mock, albeit with consistency at the top. BA has Seattle taking the second pitcher in the draft, following Texas A&M LHP Asa Lacy at No. 3 to the Marlins, and the first RHP overall. Meyer would be a nice pick at the spot, with mid-90s heat and a dynamic slider, though like most smaller pitchers (Meyer is just 6’0) the burden of proof will be greater on him to stick as a starter. Meyer would likely command a signing bonus below the $5.742 million Seattle’s first pick allots, saving them some cash to entice a prep player at a later pick. (A reminder, all signing bonuses will be heavily deferred, with a maximum of $100k being paid in 2020 and the rest being paid over the next couple years. That does not, however, impact the slot values themselves.)

ESPN (Insider)

No. 6 Overall Pick: 2B/SS Nick Gonzales - New Mexico State University

No change here from the previous mock by McDaniel, though the pieces around Seattle’s pick have had some shifts, and McDaniel notes Meyer and Georgia RHP Emerson Hancock would also be of great interest to the Mariners (more on Hancock in a moment). Other mocks note Gonzales could go even higher as a cost-saving move from a more cash-poor team, or a calculation on saving bonus pool money (e.g. Gonzales over Vanderbilt UTIL Austin Martin).

FanGraphs

No. 6 Overall Pick: RHP Emerson Hancock - University of Georgia

Five months ago this would have been a stunner. Hancock spent much of 2019 as a contender for the first overall pick. He (pictured in the header photo for this article) looks the part of an ace far more than Meyer, at 6’4, 215 lbs, ticking all the boxes. Easy delivery, great command, mid-90s heat, and a changeup-slider combo at similar speeds with near-mirrored movement. Hancock got touched up in what should have been a favorable matchup in his first outing this spring, which loomed larger since he didn’t get a season to balance the ledger, but his stuff didn’t appear diminished. He missed time in 2019 with arm soreness, but looked unfazed this season, yet a lack of medical data on him has apparently got some teams skittish. Hancock, McDaniel notes, has a sinker as his primary fastball, which doesn’t tend to shine on pitch tracking metrics, nor miss bats at higher levels in the modern game. Still, a sinker/changeup-led repertoire has had its share of success in Seattle, and Hancock dropping to the Mariners would likely be a boon if his health lines up. Longenhagen ranks Hancock as a 50 FV player already, as the 75th overall prospect in baseball and the fourth-best prospect in the draft.

The Athletic

No. 6 Overall Pick: LHP Reid Detmers - University of Georgia

What’s the fun in having the same answer as one another? Keith Law’s second mock draft echoes many of the same sentiments the others have been hearing (and what we have been hearing) that Seattle is leaning heavily towards a college player with their first pick. Detmers fits the bill, and the profile that the Mariners have targeted in recent years (Marco Gonzales, Wade LeBlanc, Mike Leake) of soft-tossing command experts who overachieve with the sum of their parts. That might be underselling Detmers, who has a parabolic curveball that has mesmerized ACC and international opponents alike, but one of his major appeals is near MLB readiness, which isn’t, or shouldn’t be, as high priority for Seattle. If Seattle buys that a low-70s curveball can fool pro hitters with regularity, they could have a gem, but the danger in taking a command/control guy with such a high pick will always be risking missing higher upside and counting on a narrower pathway to success.

MLB Pipeline

No. 6 Overall Pick: RHP Emerson Hancock - University of Georgia

Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline published an updated mock this morning as well, putting Hancock in Seattle’s crosshairs, giving him a surprising plurality of nods. Callis, for his money, notes the pros and cons of Hancock succinctly:

There’s talk that Hancock, MLB Pipeline’s preseason No. 1 prospect, might be sliding a little because analytically minded teams don’t love his pitch metrics. The Mariners are focused on collegians and might take Gonzales over him, but he’d be their pitching choice over Meyer or Louisville left-hander Reid Detmers.

If Hancock is indeed atop the M’s draft board (assuming Asa Lacy will be gone, which seems assured), Seattle could snap up a potential ace. The concern with Hancock, beyond the aforementioned poor first outing this year, is health issues, as lat issues kept him out and left him diminished in late 2019. With his stuff fully back to normal in early 2020, albeit with shakier small sample results, Hancock isn’t a total slam-dunk, but 6’4 SEC-slaying pitchers who sit 94-97 don’t grow on trees. And while he only got in 24.0 innings in four starts this spring, he had a 34/3 K/BB ratio and a 3.75 ERA to start 2020 after a 97/18 K/BB and a 1.99 ERA in 90.1 IP in 2019. Perhaps his pitch metrics are underwhelming, but the results thus far haven’t been.